Tactical errors like Dutch GP pit call have cost McLaren “a lot of points” – Norris

2023 Dutch Grand Prix

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Lando Norris said McLaren’s decision not to pit him when rain fell early in the Dutch Grand Prix was the latest example of the team getting a strategy call wrong.

By the time he came in, 11 of his rivals had already changed to the intermediate tyres, and Norris had lost much of the advantage of his front-row starting position.

Norris initially held on to his second place starting spot but was passed by Fernando Alonso on lap two as rain fell. Red Bull’s pole-winner Max Verstappen and Alonso then pitted to switch from their slick tyres, and Norris moved ahead.

He led for eight seconds before Mercedes’ George Russell came past. Norris was then overtaken by Red Bull’s Sergio Perez – who had been the first to pit for intermediate tyres.

After finally pitting at the end of the lap in the worsening rain, Norris was outside of the points positions and dropped as low as 15th.

“It’s clear we made the wrong decision, we made a bad decision,” said Norris after the race. “It’s something we will review and talk about and discuss because I guess we’ve made a couple this season.

“We’ve lost too many positions and lost a lot of points throughout this year with a couple of these things.”

Norris made it up to 10th before his second pit stop on lap 10 to return to slicks, and was in ninth when he pitted again on lap 42 for another set of soft compound tyres. That stop dropped him to 14th, but he was up to 10th before the rain returned. McLaren were one of the first teams to react and Norris moved up to seventh after pitting.

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“The second part of the race, we made up for it,” he said. “Well, not made up for it, but we made the right decision.

“We were one of the first ones to box and we gained some time, we gained a position on George, things like that. But the first one was just not great.”

The race showed McLaren still have a lot to do to get their strategy calls right, said Norris. “There’s been plenty of times we made the right decision [in mixed conditions], and good decisions and we’ve gained,” he said. “Generally you remember more the ones that you lose on than you gain on

“I think we’ve made some good steps and some good progress with a lot of it. But a day like today was evident we were a long way from where we needed to be.”

Although “strategy is what messed us up today”, Norris felt McLaren’s race pace compared to Aston Martin and Mercedes was also “pretty terrible.”

“Our one-lap pace is still a lot more competitive than our race pace. I think that’s becoming more and more evident, and we’re doing whatever we can to fix it and to make steps forward but at the minute it’s nowhere near enough.”

But he said he was “so happy to be in P7” given “it could have been a lot worse” after the start.

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2023 Dutch Grand Prix

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Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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12 comments on “Tactical errors like Dutch GP pit call have cost McLaren “a lot of points” – Norris”

  1. Why the didnt bring in at least one mclaren is a strange decision.

    1. Absurd really. Especially mercedes with Lewis on mediums down in 13th. A no brainer to bring him in on lap 1. Towards the end of lap 1 I was saying they have to bring him in there’s no way they can’t, but he went on and Perez and leclerc came in instead.
      Apparently Lewis wanted to come in but I haven’t been able to find the radio

    2. Yes the call in hindsight was obviously wrong, however, I’m a mclaren fan and at this point seeing another third place finish just feels normal. In order to beat max you’d require something pretty special, and if the rain had have stopped a lap or two earlier we MAY have been talking about a mclaren victory, but probably not as max is so much faster.. I’d rather lose by a lot trying to win it, then chuff around in third again

  2. RBR took the same decision with Max to stay out when the rain came. Max won though.

  3. The race winning strategy was wrong? That’s always an amusing take, even if the difference in performance between the cars explains much of the difference in outcome.

    But anyway, Norris is free to come on. Leclerc did, even if he had to wait a bit it was worth it to avoid another lap on the slicks.

    1. The race winning strategy was wrong?

      No, Verstappen pitted before Norris.

      1. Thanks! You’re right, Norris was one lap later.

        Makes it all the more puzzling he sat around waiting for others to call him in. Decades of F1 history show the chances of ‘braving it out’ as I think Hamilton was told verbatim pretty much never works. Even on such a short track. And if it somehow does, it’s such an unpredictable fluke that it’s not worth taking that chance unless you have like a 1:50 chance to clinch the title that way.

        Someone else commented this elsewhere, but forecasts are rarely relevant when it’s raining. Change tyres and see where it goes from there.

        1. Good point, I think if there’s persistent light rain it’s enough to make intermediates the right decision, it’s only really when you have light rain for only 3 mins or so, like the 2nd time in this race, that you can keep on with slicks.

          And then for full wets to be appropriate (if they let them race) you need a certain level of persistent rain, or a really strong short period, but in that last case staying on intermediates could pay off in terms of lap time if you don’t crash, even in a not-neutralized race.

  4. Almost worth starting the race on inters-I’m suprised someone did not try this…

    1. Too risky, if the rain shower had been like the 2nd one we got, where you could continue on slicks, being on inters would kill your race.

  5. This race showed that neither McLaren or Lando have learnt the lessons of Sochi 2021

    1. Think that’s incorrect: if the rain coming leads to full wets, like the last one we got this race or the one in sochi if it continued, then you need to switch to inters immediately, but if you get a weak one like the 2nd one in this race you can stay on slicks, seems mclaren has issues reading the weather.

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